The world of cyber is ever changing and shaping. Nowadays it is more important than ever to secure and protect your cellphone, laptop, computer, and any smart device you have. The internet was created in the 1960s and was released for more public use in the 1980s. Believe it or not the first hack actually came in 1969 while computers were still housed in giant, locked, temperature controlled rooms. The team of two created shortcuts and rules to run on the computers and that “hack” created the operating system still used today called UNIX (plaza.uf.edu). Today, however, hacking isn’t always as innocent as two co-workers creating shortcuts on the computer. The internet has advanced significantly since those days, and with that the attacks have become far more complex and serious. There are groups and individuals dedicated to hacking governments, companies, and high-profile individuals.
There are three different main types of hackers: white hat, grey hat, and black hat hackers. White hat hackers are the ones that a large business would hire to see where their network is vulnerable. The company is aware that they are being hacked, and the hacker causes no data loss or damage to the network. They just show where the vulnerabilities are.
A grey hat hacker is someone that acts like a black hat hacker by going in illegally, but they do not cause any damage or data loss. Often, they reach out to the company to offer to fix the vulnerabilities for a fee.
A black hat hacker is someone that goes in illegally and attempts to cause data loss, crash networks, or alter the way a website functions.
You might even be surprised who some of the most famous and infamous hackers were. John McAfee, the creator of the antivirus software that DOD members can use for free, was charged with hacking into the Belizean government and uncovering a huge scandal covering up bribes, drugs, corruption, and even murders. He had to go into hiding for many years following that data breach, but several years later he resurfaced when he volunteered to help the FBI. Another surprising name is Stephen Wozniak, one of the original founders of Apple. He created a device while they were in college to bypass the charges that occurred when you would make a long-distance phone call.
Both of those hacks were on a relatively small scale. WannaCry is a ransomware attack that affected computers in the US, UK, China, and Russia, along with 146 other countries. Ransomware is exactly like it sounds; it is a program that holds your computer data “ransom” until you pay the hackers. Well, this attack affected over 200,000 computers worldwide, and has been called, “the most prolific cyberattacks ever around the globe” (CNET).
Another recent data breach that you might have heard of is the one that happened to Equifax. In September 2017, the credit monitoring company Equifax had 147 million peoples’ information get compromised. That information consisted of home addresses, phone numbers, social security numbers, etc. To own up to their mistake they set aside 575 million dollars to provide credit monitoring and protection. For many people this was a terrifying time because their whole life could change if someone decided to open a credit card in their name or take out a loan.
In conclusion, there are many kinds of hackers, some hack legally to assist companies, but oftentimes they are out for attention, financial gain, or to cause mayhem. There have been many hacks throughout the lifetime of the internet, and they will only become more complex. The best way to keep your information safe is to practice safe cybersecurity measures. Limit the information you put online, use websites that begin with the prefix “https,” and use a VPN as often as you can to decrease your digital footprint.